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Yearning for Polar Seas

James Hamilton-Paterson: North, 1 September 2005

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule 
by Joanna Kavenna.
Viking, 334 pp., £16.99, February 2005, 0 670 91395 2
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The Idea of North 
by Peter Davidson.
Reaktion, 271 pp., £16.95, January 2005, 1 86189 230 6
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... for a documentary, the subject of which was by no means clear to me’. As one of his biographers, Otto Friedrich, comments, the subject was perfectly clear: Gould was simply fascinated by the idea of isolation and solitude, perhaps the major part of the North’s allure for artists. In 1998 I went to Newfoundland myself. Outside the harbour of St ...

Baby Power

Marina Warner, 6 July 1989

The Romantic Child: From Runge to Sendak 
by Robert Rosenblum.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1989, 0 500 55020 4
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Caldecott & Co: Notes on Books and Pictures 
by Maurice Sendak.
Reinhardt, 216 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 1 871061 06 7
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Dear Mili 
by Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Ralph Manheim and Maurice Sendak.
Viking Kestrel, £9.95, November 1988, 0 670 80168 2
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Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the ‘Tales’ 
by Ruth Bottigheimer.
Yale, 211 pp., £8.95, April 1989, 0 300 04389 9
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The one who set out to study fear 
by Peter Redgrove.
Bloomsbury, 183 pp., £13.95, April 1989, 0 7475 0187 4
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... the unsettling adoration of the primitive found in the art of the German visionaries Philip Otto Runge and Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Sentimentality has become a great offence in contemporary aesthetics and – less justifiably – in politics, and with the new art brut, there has been a leap of interest in the late ...

How to play the piano

Nicholas Spice, 26 March 1992

Music Sounded Out 
by Alfred Brendel.
Robson, 258 pp., £16.95, September 1990, 0 86051 666 0
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Glenn Gould: A Life and Variations 
by Otto Friedrich.
Lime Tree, 441 pp., £12.99, October 1990, 9780413452313
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... first full biography. It’s an admirably intelligent and readable account of a complex figure. Friedrich is especially good at balancing the public and private aspects of his subject. He suggests the possible psychological determinants of Gould’s behaviour with tact and just the right amount of surmise, and his book adequately poses, without trying to ...

Prussian Disneyland

Jan-Werner Müller, 9 September 2021

... dates from the mid 13th century; the earliest castle, built by the prince elector of Brandenburg Friedrich II (‘Irontooth’), dates from 1443. It met resistance from the start. Friedrich’s plan to erect a Zwingburg, a real fortress, wasn’t popular with Berliners, who feared the permanent presence of their Landesherr ...

More Reconciliation than Truth

David Blackbourn: Germany’s Postwar Amnesties, 31 October 2002

Adenauer’s Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration 
by Norbert Frei, translated by Joel Golb.
Columbia, 479 pp., £24.50, September 2002, 0 231 11882 1
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... since entered general use in Germany. Others had written on the subject before Frei, notably Jörg Friedrich and Ulrich Brochhagen; more have done so since. But no one has written better. This is an important work: very well researched, reflective, sharp in judgment yet alive to complexity. Frei’s book is in three parts, each a cross-section of the years ...

‘Equality exists in Valhalla’

Richard J. Evans: German Histories, 4 December 2014

Germany: Memories of a Nation 
by Neil MacGregor.
Allen Lane, 598 pp., £30, November 2014, 978 0 241 00833 1
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Germany: Memories of a Nation 
British Museum, until 25 January 2015Show More
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... of nationalist thinkers, and was symbolised in the ‘imperial crown of Charlemagne’ (actually Otto I), which Kaiser Wilhelm II had copied on the eve of the First World War. Nowadays, as MacGregor notes, it has become a symbol of friendship between France and Germany, each of which has claimed to be Charlemagne’s true heir. As we move through the ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby, 9 February 1995

Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... to the CIA that employed a bevy of refugee leftist intellectuals like Marcuse, Franz Neumann, Otto Kirkheimer and Paul Baran. Recent books include poignant accounts like Gabrielle Edgcomb’s From Swastika to Jim Crow, about the sixty-odd German Jewish professors who found refuge at black colleges in the American South. According to Claus-Dieter Krohn, a ...

In the Chair

Edward Said, 17 July 1997

Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and the Tragedy of Genius 
by Peter Ostwald.
Norton, 368 pp., $29.95, May 1997, 0 393 04077 1
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When the Music Stops: Managers, Maestros and the Corporate Murder of Classical Music 
by Norman Lebrecht.
Simon and Schuster, 400 pp., £7.99, July 1997, 0 671 01025 5
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... his attitudes to various composers, to recording, aspects of his life and so forth. Not until Otto Friedrich’s Glenn Gould: A Lift and Variations (reviewed in the LRB, 26 March 1992) was published with the co-operation of Gould’s estate was there enough raw information about the details of the pianist’s quite amazing eccentricities. ...

War on Heisenberg

M.F. Perutz, 18 November 1993

Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb 
by Thomas Powers.
Cape, 610 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 224 03641 6
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Operation Epsilon: The Farm Hall Transcripts 
introduced by Charles Frank.
Institute of Physics, 515 pp., £14.95, May 1993, 0 7503 0274 7
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... an Austrian physicist working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, persuaded her colleague Otto Hahn, a radiochemist, to join her in a further study of these ‘transuranic’ elements. They collaborated until Austria’s occupation by German troops in March 1938 robbed Lise Meitner of her protection from anti-Jewish persecution and caused her to flee ...

Orpheus in his Underwear

Harold James, 1 November 1984

My Life 
by Richard Wagner, translated by Andrew Gray, edited by Mary Whittall.
Cambridge, 786 pp., £22.50, November 1983, 0 521 22929 4
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Untimely Meditations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by R.J. Hollingdale, introduced by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £15, December 1983, 0 521 24740 3
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Wagner: A Case-History 
by Martin von Amerongen.
Dent, 169 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 460 04618 7
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... patronage on which he depended (there are accounts here of the generosity of the Ritter family, of Otto Wesendonck, of the Princess Metternich, of Count Hatzfeld). Patronage was unreliable, and humiliating because of the degree of personal dependence it implied. At first Wagner played the game according to the traditional rules: from Riga he wrote to Meyerbeer ...

At the Met

Michael Hofmann: Beckmann in New York, 16 February 2017

... and rackety. He had nothing to do with any artistic grouping or individual. (In this he resembles Otto Dix – maybe it’s all German solitudinarianism, out of Nietzsche or Caspar David Friedrich.) His boldly outlined conical or tubular forms, unconventional colour balances and bright, acidic palettes stand out ...

Imagined Soil

Neal Ascherson: The German War on Nature, 6 April 2006

The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape and the Making of Modern Germany 
by David Blackbourn.
Cape, 497 pp., £30, January 2006, 0 224 06071 6
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... the Wonderland of Technology’) describes the hugely popular cult of dam-building, led by Otto Intze, ‘Grand Master of German Dams’, intended to provide drinking water for the growing cities, to fill the new canal network, to control river flooding by barrages on the headwaters (a conspicuous failure in the long term) and – later – to provide ...

He is cubic!

Tom Stammers: Wagnerism, 4 August 2022

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music 
by Alex Ross.
Fourth Estate, 769 pp., £14.99, September 2021, 978 0 00 842294 3
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... simultaneous ubiquity and banality of Wagnerism.Wagner’s most fervent acolyte and antagonist was Friedrich Nietzsche. After their first meeting in November 1868, Nietzsche wrote of his exhilaration at this ‘fabulously lively and fiery man, who speaks very rapidly, [and] is very funny’. For his part, Wagner, then aged 55, seems to have been rejuvenated by ...

Stepping Stone to the New Times

Christopher Turner: Bauhaus, 5 July 2012

Bauhaus: Art as Life 
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... Bauhaus, Itten had originally been a primary schoolteacher. He introduced some of the theories of Friedrich Froebel – the founder of the Kindergarten movement, who pioneered the use of educational toys – and encouraged his students to reconnect with their inner child. At the start of one term Itten told them that they would be making games for the next ...

Not to Be Read without Shuddering

Adam Smyth: The Atheist’s Bible, 20 February 2014

The Atheist’s Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lys Ann Weiss.
Chicago, 249 pp., £21, October 2012, 978 0 226 53029 1
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... seems to have been in circulation in late 17th-century Germany. A Protestant minister called Johan Friedrich Mayer had a copy in his library, which brought agitated requests from readers, a few of whom were permitted to make copies. After Mayer died, and after much petitioning, Leibniz was granted permission to read the text, watched over by Mayer’s ...

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